Original Publication
Open Access

Validated Ovid Medline Search Assessment Tool

Published: July 27, 2011 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.8588

Included in this publication:

  • UMMSA-Medline Search Assessment Tool.pdf
  • Instructor's Guide UMMSA.docx

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Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Introduction: The ability to successfully search Medline and other online databases is a critical component to sustain lifelong learning among health care professionals. Given the fact the ACGME has phased in competencies for graduate medical education such as practice-based learning and improvement, the importance of this skill has only grown. As a result, medical education needs a validated assessment instruments to adequately measure graduate and undergraduate learner abilities to search Medline for appropriate and relevant information. Methods: The University of Michigan MEDLINE Search Assessment (UMMSA) tool for Ovid Medline is a matrix that measures the use of identified search elements and other criteria of importance, and may be customized to apply to a specific question. Since the first step in effectively searching the medical literature is to identify a “searchable question,” the searcher is expected to identify an appropriate search question, based on an introduced clinical scenario, as well as an appropriate search strategy. There are 11 search criteria for which points are awarded and two search elements for which points are deducted. Results: This tool has been used in collaborative teaching settings facilitated by physicians and health sciences librarians. The tool has been used across the continuum of medical education: undergraduate, graduate and faculty development showing its use in lifelong learning. In 2004, the instrument was piloted with fourth-year medical students. To validate the instrument, Medline search strategies were obtained and scored from residents at various points in their training and from faculty identified as experts in evidence-based medicine. Discussion: The UMMSA has been successfully deployed with fourth-year medical students, first- through fourth-year pediatrics and internal medicine-pediatrics residents, and clinical faculty from varying disciplines. It allows educators to demonstrate evidence of competence in searching the Medline database in order to locate relevant medical literature for patient care and lifelong learning.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this session, learners will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate evidence of student competence in searching the Medline database in order to locate relevant medical literature for patient care and lifelong learning.
  2. Gain access to outcome evidence in the area of practice-based learning and improvement.

Author Information

  • Gurpreet Rana, MLIS: University of Michigan Medical School
  • Doreen Bradley, MILS: University of Michigan
  • Monica Lypson, MD: University of Michigan Medical School

None to report.

None to report.


Rana G, Bradley D, Lypson M. Validated Ovid Medline search assessment tool. MedEdPORTAL. 2011;7:8588. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.8588